Thanks for the link Karen. I gave it a quick view this morning and incorporated it into our walk to and through the park today. By Diane's definition of LLW in the webinar Skye is doing great.
By the definition of our CGC Prep instructor, "a "J" in the leash at all times", we are marginal.
Patience, Practice, and Perseverance and of course make sure we are both having fun
. We'll get there.
Small steps! And yes, there are different definitions of LLW. Your CGC instructor is looking for something like a precursor to heeling, while Denise is looking for a workable, comfortable way for a human and dog to navigate the outside world without hauling on each other. One requires a "j" in the leash, one requires no more than "light contact". As a former horse trainer, I understand and really like "light contact with my dog for casual walking.
That's not what I want for formal heeling, of course, where the dog needs to be right at my side. Then the leash is only there as an "emergency brake". If there is EVER any tightening of the leash, I have not done my job as trainer and handler. The dog actually will be in the same position with or without the leash. ...But that takes a much longer time to teach, especially in the distracting environment of the great outdoors, which the "circle walking" is designed for.
Below are three photos of my dogs walking. The first is what I expect on casual walks. there is "contact" on the leashes, there is not a "j" loop, which on our short-legged breed can actually mean a leash under a leg.
But even with three leashes in one hand, you can see that my husband has a very light grip on the leashes, even walking three dogs, because he doesn't need more. They are all behaving, moving with him politely as a group.
In the second photo, Kodi is heeling on leash with a "J" in the leash, so more what your instructor wants. The only way a dog can maintain this is with total attention on the handler, as Kodi is showing here. (well, it flipped the order of these photos, but you get the gist...
...And if they really CAN maintain that reliably, they don't NEED the leash anymore, (at least in the ring) and can heel like Kodi is in the final photo, proper, finished, competition level heeling.
Kodi is also well enough trained that he is completely reliable off-leash even in the woods. Alas, the coyote danger in our area has increased to the point that we can no longer let him do it. But he did for years, because he is totally trustworthy off-leash. We've never been able to give the girls the opportunity to learn that in a truly open area, because of the coyote problem, unfortuantely.